Of the 50,000 or so people who work at PricewaterhouseCoopers in the U.S., 2,300 are partners at the business consulting behemoth. Juan-carlos Morales, however, is now the first creative executive in the company's history to make partner.
PwC's chief creative officer might also be the first graffiti artist to do so, too.
His promotion comes at a time when many consultancies are boosting their agency service businesses by bringing in creatives from the agency world. The 39-year-old Mr. Morales, who says he attended the school of "hard knocks," tapped into his creative side when he was in the seventh grade, spray painting walls as a form of artistic expression.
Ad Age asked Mr. Morales about his path from graffiti to PwC partner. The interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Advertising Age: Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself?
Juan-carlos Morales: Art has always been a key part of my life. I came from a creative household. Growing up, kids were getting G.I. Joe's, but I was getting Michelangelo and Monet books. As I got into middle school, a lot of other kids started to rebel and I rebelled through graffiti. That's where I found my ability and graffiti became a big passion for me growing up.
I first started out doing print for an ad agency and then web work and freelance. I never thought in my career this is where I would end up.
Ad Age: Your parents gave you books on French impressionist Oscar-Claude Monet?
Mr. Morales: My parents both came from Cuba and were both immigrants. My father, he loved to draw, but as a man in the 60s, that was seen as a bad thing. He was not allowed to like art, or create art, because it was seen as something that would make him less of a man. So, I think as we were growing up, my dad didn't want us to feel those same constraints. I think he exposed us to things like opera and jazz for that reason. I hated opera and jazz when I was a kid, but I'm really grateful now because it gave me a passion for creativity in all of its forms, not just design, but also in music and theatre. My brother, he's now a writer in New York and he became a playwright.
Advertising Age: Why was it looked down upon to be an artist or creative person in Cuban culture?
Mr. Morales: I think it had something to do with homophobia. I think it was seen as something as if you weren't really a man. If you were a man, that was something you wouldn't get into.